August 23, 2014

Elyria
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Aircraft carrier component provider seeks congressional help to avert cuts

ELYRIA — Ken Caratelli is familiar with the drill.

For the second time in two years, the president and CEO of Elyria’s Nelson Stud Welding will sit down next week with Ohio congressional leaders to make the case against threatened federal defense budget cuts to the Navy’s aircraft carrier construction and maintenance program.

Nelson Stud, which employs more than 200 people at facilities in Elyria, LaGrange and Westlake, produces welding equipment including specialized fasteners that are used on more than 300 Navy vessels ranging from its 11 massive aircraft carriers to submarines and destroyers.

While the amount of proposed cuts to the aircraft program remains to be seen, they could potentially lead to the loss of jobs at Nelson Stud, as was feared a year ago before Congress decided to maintain the program at current funding levels, Caratelli said.

“I haven’t yet evaluated how this particular situation will affect us, but depending on how this shakes out, it could have a short- or long-term effect,” Caratelli said.

“This is sensitive information, and we are a privately held company,” Caratelli said in declining to reveal the much of the company’s business is represented by its contracts with the Navy.

“The fact that I’m spending a week of my time in Washington lets you know how important this is,” Caratelli said.

Nelson Stud, which is a division of Doncasters Group Ltd., is one of more than 180 suppliers nationwide to the aircraft carrier program whose representatives will reportedly urge Congress to maintain funding for what is termed the refueling and complex overhaul of the USS George Washington carrier.

Caratelli said he has meetings set with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana.

“We want to impress upon Congressional leaders the importance of this program both from a national security standpoint and from the standpoint of keeping Americans employed,” Caratelli said.

The carrier maintenance-modernization program is a four-year process because it involves the pairs of nuclear reactors that power the Navy’s carriers, Caratelli said. “There is a long lead time involved in getting these ships ready, which have a life of over 50 years.”

Continued uncertainty over funding for the Navy aircraft carrier program “is troubling to the carrier supply chain,” according to a statement from Nelson Stud, as it “provides no clear direction on how companies should … prepare inventory, allocate resources and hire skilled workers.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

  • Phil Blank

    We have a war brewing and it is not just Russia in the Ukraine!
    We will need a heck of a lot more than just Nelson Stud!

  • golfingirl

    Why do we need a Navy?

    The world loves us. Iran and Syria are now our friends; Russia and U.S. relations have never been better.

    There are no threats abroad. We are now just one big happy family with the rest of the world.

    Don’t be so paranoid, the anointed one has made peace with all our enemies. He has apologized to them for our past indiscretions and now they all just love us. We are all friends.

    I say get rid of the military entirely. This will save lives and we can use the defense budget to pay for more entitlements for our own needy citizens.

    We don’t use these things anyway, they just sort of float out there with no purpose.

    Democrats want to sink the program, Republicans want to build it. Since the Democrats are superior to the Republicans, they will be in control for a long time, so we might as well save a little money.

    Looks like an Elyria business may need to be saved by the Republicans after all.